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Josh Shaw says he'll practice at corner and safety this offseason

Josh Shaw plans to get the opportunity to play both cornerback and safety this coming season.

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Whether it's offense, defense or even on special teams, the Cincinnati Bengals love having versatility throughout their team.

One of the latest examples of this is second-year cornerback Josh Shaw. The Bengals used the 120th selection of the 2015 NFL Draft on the former USC Trojans star, and he went on to have a promising rookie season in limited snaps.

Now, Shaw tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that he'll practice at both safety and corner leading into the 2016 NFL season and hopes to have a chance to earn an opportunity to play at both spots.

"This year, I guess you could say I’ll be doing a lot more than last year," Shaw said. "Last year for me was just corner and then some nickel. But I see myself this year, especially with Taylor (Mays) being out the first few games, having to learn safety. I think I’ll get reps at three different positions this spring.

"I’ve really done it my whole career before the league, in college. So it won’t be nothing new. Playing safety in the league will be a little different probably but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I think it’s good that I have that value to where I can go in and do different things. It can be a way to get on the field quickly and more often for me, in a sub package or something like that."

As Shaw alluded to, he played multiple positions throughout his college career, which was a rocky one to say the least. During his final year in college, Shaw was a defensive co-captain, but ended up being suspended for 10 games after he injured himself (and lied about it) jumping off a balcony to avoid continuing a fight with his girlfriend.

Because Shaw only played in three games, scouts spent more time focusing on tape from his prior years when Shaw was an All-Conference defensive back while playing both cornerback and safety before he became a full-time starter for the Trojans in 2013.

In the 14 games he started, 11 were at corner and three at free safety. Shaw notched 67 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, seven pass defenses and four interceptions. He had a pick-six and returned a blocked punt against Cal for another defensive score.

That kind of versatility and being able to make an impact at both positions made the Bengals like Shaw enough to grab him in Round 4. Cincy loves versatile players who can play multiple positions on defense, which made Shaw very attractive to them, to the point they almost traded up to get him.

After a good showing in training camp and the preseason, Shaw played in 15 games in 2015 as he became not only a key special teams contributor, but also got significant snaps on defense. That was thanks in large part to Darqueze Dennard's season-ending shoulder injury in Week 11, which effectively made Shaw the fourth corner for the rest of the season.

Shaw's best game as a rookie came in Week 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which he earned his first and only start as a rookie. He played 52 snaps and helped limit All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown to just seven grabs for 87 yards.

But with Dennard now back and the Bengals having just spent a first-round pick on Houston corner William Jackson III, it's going to be hard for Shaw to see the field if he only sticks to corner. That's probably why he's eager to get snaps at safety with Reggie Nelson having left, leaving a lot more playing time to be had there.

That said, it's not out of the question to think Shaw could become one of the team's top three corners this year and essentially become a starter there. Though it was a limited sample size, Shaw showed enough promise to think he may actually be the third-best corner on the Bengals right now.